The C.I.A. missile strike in Pakistan’s tribal areason Wednesday may have killed Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the country’s fearsome Taliban militia, American and Pakistani officials said Thursday.Officials in Washington and Islamabad were scrambling to make sense of intercepted communications that seemed to indicate that Mr. Mehsud might have been killed in the strike, and by Thursday evening American officials said they were growing increasingly confident that the Taliban leader was dead.Still, they cautioned that it could be weeks before they could be certain, given the difficulty of getting to the remote location in South Waziristan to perform DNA tests.
But it's my sense that many in Pakistan consider Mehsud to basically be the root of their problems and that taking him out would be the natural end to a campaign against the militants in FATA and the NWFP. So should we worry that the death of Mehsud might, perversely, mean a relaxation of the Pakistani Army's campaign against Pakistan's insurgent groups? Or will this instead fill them with confidence to carry on?